Lessons in Leadership with José Mourinho

After evaluated another successful final for José Mourinho and Manchester United, five common traits emerged that contributed to his success.


Coach Mourinho is a tactician, and when it comes to a single-elimination game, you should never bet against his team. He understands his team, the opponents and the situation, and is able to formulate a responsive plan. Looking at his record in finals games, his teams has won 11 out of 13.

A good coach can adapt to the present situation – even if it’s as simple as adapting your counter-attack plan when a team decides to sit back in defense. You have to adapt to the situation; the sooner you realize this, the greater the chance for success.

Have an Objective

When Coach Mourinho came to Chelsea, he did one thing behind the scenes that epitomizes his desire to achieve success. He wrote to all the Chelsea players before he met them and said, “From here on, each practice, each game, each minute of your social life must center on the aim of being a champion.” This set a standard that nothing but the best will suffice.

What is your objective? If you don’t know, then find one. We live in a world where everyone is keen to shout about what they are doing – and there is some validity to this process as it should foster accountability. However, I would advise you to write it down and share it with those that are involved in the process. Everyone else will notice your successes when it happens.


Last week, Coach Mourinho sat in a press conference wearing his Manchester United polo shirt emblazoned with Claudio Ranieri’s initials ‘CR’ in tribute to the recently fired Leicester City manager. Ranieri, who nine months earlier lead them to a Premier League Championship, was prematurely fired.

Coaches are all working toward the same common goal – the development of players and the game. Always remember this fact, and help each other to improve as coaches for the sake of the players and the game itself.

Protection of His Players

Coach Mourinho will often take the heat off his players in the run up to an important game by putting himself in the spotlight. This tactic can often be seen as José wanting the focus, but in fact is a highly-effective method of ensuring that the players can focus on preparing for the game and not worry about any outside factors.

As a leader, whether this be of the team you coach or the staff you manage, think of ways to enable them to focus on the important things and not be distracted by ‘the noise’ around them.

Work Ethic

A regular of the 16-hour work day and meticulous in his preparation, he has been known to hand over dossiers of his team’s preparation to lower league teams.

You will forever hear that those that prepare fare better when it comes to crunch time. You need to know the all the factors that may affect your success so you can plan to tackle them accordingly. 

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